But the fog of news is still thick over events. CBS earlier denied that any arrests had taken place. Reuters is also saying no arrests have taken place. Slate says it is still unclear whether any suspects are under arrest. The Boston Police Department is categorical. No arrests have been made.
Now the AP has walked back its own story. No arrests have been made. From the available data it is confirmed that as of this writing the suspect may or may not have been apprehended and may possibly, but not definitely exist.
Two Globe sources pointed to both cellphone photos and video footage as providing the break that led to the identification of a suspect.
One source said earlier in the day that an image had been captured of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.
A number of sites have been compiling photos of the crowd scenes. These have tended to show athletic young men all wearing jackets, baseball caps and black backpacks.
The Wall Street Journal says "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has isolated images of what it believes to be a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, a government official said Wednesday."
What's true, ah! The battle for the narrative is about to begin. CNN notes the investigation into the perpetrator's identity has hit a dead end. "Within a day of the Oklahoma City bombing, officials had named their suspect: Timothy McVeigh. Within two days of the 9/11 attacks, investigators had zeroed in on al Qaeda as the perpetrator."
The man in charge, Rick DesLauriers specializes in cases that have been open for years. The FBI veteran solved the 23-year old Gardner Museum theft -- using informers. And he found Whitey Bulger hiding in California after 16 years -- using informers. He's a patient man, DesLauriers, whose main experience has been in counter-espionage.
Just who the top administration law enforcement people think is behind the attacks was indicated by Janet Napolitano who said there were no indications that it was part of a "broader plot". That means ... well your guess is as good as mine.
But in a tale that already full of surprises that assumption of disconnectedness may have to be revisited. A letter laced with ricin was sent to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MI) followed a day later by a "suspicious letter" mailed to President Obama.
Since the letter to Obama it now turns out, also contains ricin, the possibilities of connectivity return. And yet it could not have been inspired by the Boston attack unless the sender was either part of the plot or in possession of a time machine. "The FBI said there is no indication of a connection between the letters and the bombing. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon."
Meanwhile the struggle over the narrative proceeds apace. Seen on Twitter, "Disturbing that it's OK for TV to ID a Boston bombing suspect only as 'a dark-skinned individual.'"
CBS News now reporting possible suspect is a WHITE MALE-not "dark-skinned" as earlier reported by CNN http://thebea.st/YW3yEZ
Matt Yglesias asks: "How dark does your skin need to be before you qualify as 'dark-skinned'? Is there an official police skin tone index?" The probable answer to that is yes. The whitest man in America is George Zimmerman. By contrast Ward Churchill is the epitome of a native American. Everybody's got a skin tone index. The only trouble is they are all different.
It's like a collective insanity has descended on the media. Worse, it's almost like there are two narratives inside law enforcement itself. They say stuff that must be true on at least some level only to walk it back.
Pretty soon this story isn't going to be about who bombed the Boston Marathon. It will be about who we want to have bombed the Boston Marathon.
Two of Reddit’s other favorite “suspicious males” are noteworthy, commenters write, because they have a backpack in some early photos, and do not seem to have it in others. They also appear to be of Middle Eastern or African descent, a fact not lost on vigilantes.
On 4Chan, one user posted an aerial photo from the marathon with bold red text superimposed over one man: “1: ALONE 2: BROWN 3: Black backpack 4: Not watching,” it says. ...
But vigilantism could also have very serious consequences, both for the innocent people whose photos are now annotated all over the Internet, and for the ongoing investigation itself.
And yet it is the 'official' agencies which have made the most publicly spectacular mistakes so far. The authorities questioned a Saudi man and raided his apartment before deciding he was not of interest. CNN and AP, depending on whom you blame, reported a suspect in custody. It was later denied. There is no reason to believe that the police and the media, left to themselves, will remain infallible.
The police have always relied on the public for information. The majority of tips turn out to be dead ends. And yet nobody has any trouble with phone calls made to the cops by persons of dubious character, because it is the police and the courts that determine, based on evidence, that person is guilty or not.
The degree of ideological suspicion out there can be gauged from two snippets. In one, 72 lawmakers have written to media asking why they are blacking out the Kermit Gosnell trial. In another, Fox News radio is speculating the reason that the FBI briefing has been postponed twice now is that the Bureau is stalling for time. FBI briefing postponed for the second time - leading us to believe something IS developing behind the scenes. (@jeffmonosso) Just a few hours ago the FBi canceled its scheduled briefing at the Federal Courthouse in Boston due to a bomb threat adding news drama to a day packed with it.